Monday, December 24, 2007

Tomorrow Is Christmas

Tomorrow is Christmas. Nothing will change that. December 25th comes and goes every year at the same time. It's on the calendar. It's on the news. It's on our minds.

Tomorrow being Christmas means different things to different people. To some, it is a day or two off from work. To some it is a chance to see family and friends. To some it is the birthday celebration of the Savior.

So follow through with your plans. Travel or stay home. Give and receive gifts. Eat too much like the rest of us. But when Christmas is over, may I encourage you to start preparing now for how you will handle it next year. Not the gift giving or the travel. But rather how or if you are celebrating the birthday of the Savior. Because before you know it, it will be the next "tomorrow is Christmas".

A special thank you to all who have visited the link to my new Worship CD (to the right of this posting) and have made a purchase. If you are interested in purchasing a CD or two, click on the "Buy Now" button (PayPal) or e-mail me at bigcloudmusic@verizon.net.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

My CD Release!

I feel funny about self-promotion, but I wanted people to know that I have released my instrumental worship CD titled I'm At Rest. The CD is comprised of some of my original worship music. My heart was to create an experience of resting in the presence of the Lord.

For a sample of the music, click on the "I'm At Rest" Worship CD link (to the right of this posting under Hear Brad's Original Music).

My pastor has publicly stated that, "Of all of the instrumental worship CDs that I have listened to, this is the finest that I have ever heard. Everyone should get a copy. I can leave the office stressed, but while listening to the music on this CD, by the time I get home I am stress-free and relaxed."

Someone once said that words can touch the mind, but music can touch the soul. My hope is that the melodies on this CD will touch your soul, encourage your spirit, and connect your heart with the Father's heart.

I'm at rest like a child in Your arms. I know peace, I fear nothing at all, when I'm safe within the shadow of Your wings and You sing over me.

The CD is available for $12 (plus $1 shipping). Click the PayPal link at the listen page, or contact me at bigcloudmusic@verizon.net to pay by check.

Thanks!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hallothanksmas

I think there's been a cultural shift, a kind of repositioning of how things are perceived. An interesting thing has been happening over the last few years concerning Thanksgiving.

We already know that Christmas is no longer seen as the birthday of Jesus, but rather a giant commercial and economic opportunity for the consumer, the retailer, and the economy. Santa has replaced the manger. Frosty is the new Wise Man. Gold, frankincense and myrrh have been replaced by presents, vacations and gift cards. Essentially, it has become an incredible opportunity for money to change hands.

But recently, the "Christmas Season" (or rather the "buying season") has gradually expanded where it doesn't begin with the day after Thanksgiving, but now it includes Thanksgiving.

Yes, stores were open on Thanksgiving Day in the hopes that consumers would begin to spend their holiday dollars sooner, thus making sure that this will be a good year for business. "Black Friday" (the Friday following Thanksgiving where retailers hope to get into the black) expanded to include Thanksgiving Day (or should we go ahead and begin to call it Black Thursday to avoid the rush?).

Some major retailers required their employees to come in and work on Thanksgiving (did they pay them time-and-a-half?) so they could gather dollars sooner. And those who didn't open on Thursday opened early on Friday (most at 5:00 am, some at 4:00 am).

So when will it end? Will the gradual transformation of the "American Holiday" continue to expand and absorb all things sacred in its path?

Is Halloween next?

Friday, November 09, 2007

New Ideas

Think about this statement: Any real change comes from new ideas, rather than rehashed versions of old ones.

I guess there are arguments on both sides of this concept. But remember, we are talking about change, and not entertainment (as in re-makes of movies).

Have you used an "old" idea lately? Have you taken someone else's idea and improved on it? (No sense re-inventing the wheel, right?) Have you re-packaged something that has been used before? I think we all have done that from time to time. But again, we are talking about change.

"Are there any new ideas out there to be had?" you may be asking. Have they all been "used up"? And if I do get an original idea, can it be used to ensure lasting change?

I think that is the key right there. Am I seeking new ideas because I want to bring about change?

What kind of a change would you like to bring about? What would you like to see different? What would you like the world to look like after you are finished with it?

So we are back to the original statement: Any real change comes from new ideas, rather than rehashed versions of old ones. Once you know what you'd like to do, start being creative and do something original. Don't push the limits, rather move beyond them.

Remember that the Creator did that very thing when He made you. He looked at everything else He made up to that point, and then created something brand new. And that changed the world forever.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Sharing Ideas

Where do you get your ideas? What do you do with them? Do you hoard them or share them?

I stumbled on a site called whynot.net, which is an idea exchange. It offered ideas from "Better Brake Lights" to "Diet Restaurants". Plus, readers can comment on ideas and offer insights, suggestions and even arguments, just like a Blog.

I have found that when ideas are discussed (exchanged) with others, it usually stimulates more creative and critical thinking. Involving other thinkers into a conversation encourages depth, understanding and inspires a greater level of imagination (again, hence Blogging). But that's what I think.

What do you think?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Leaves...Finally!

It's finally beginning to happen: the leaves are changing color. Autumn is here! (Well, according to the calendar it has been here for a while - it's just finally beginning to look like it.) Last week the temperature hit the low 90's here in Maryland. We've had about a mouthful of rain since the middle of August and the dust on my car remains an inch thick no matter how often I wash it.

But, the leaves are finally changing color. The outward signs have not been supportive, so it hasn't felt like fall. But there they are now: red, gold and yellow. (Having spend the bulk of my years in Florida where leaves don't change color to follow the seasons, I still feel like a rookie when experiencing the colors of Autumn.)

I honestly hope I never lose the wonder of seeing leaves change color. I hope I never get bored with this annual event, taking it for granted like I do with many other things that I see as I pass by everyday.

I guess that's the key: wonder. When we see something spectacular for the first time we look in wonder. Some stand with their mouths open. Others gasp. I know of a few people who tend to fall on their knees and worship the Creator (maybe not such a bad choice). But all in all, I think it's about wonder.

So as you are looking at the leaves changing color this year (unless you live in Florida or similar climates), stop and wonder. And if you feel so inclined, fall on your knees and worship the Creator.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Creative Help?

Have you ever thought of how you can creatively help someone? I am not referring to painting a picture for a homeless person. What I am suggesting at is this: Some of us may be "artsy", but all of us are creative. We often use that creativity to benefit ourselves, those whom we know, those whom we want to impress, or those whom we want to make money off of.

But what about finding creative ways to help strangers. Or people we don't know who have a need. Again, I am not suggesting that we "create" something for them, but rather we help them in a way that takes them by surprise.

At this point, I am ready to rattle off a list of "you might try...", but I don't want to do that. Rather, I challenge you to start thinking! How can you meet a need? Other than putting a few dollars in someone's cup, what could you do to help?

Any ideas or suggestions?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Talk

How's this for finding true love on the internet:

The Australia Daily Telegraph reports that unhappily married couple Sana and Adnan Klaric secretly spent hours in an online chatroom pouring their hearts out to their respective cyber-lovers about their own marital troubles. The responses on the other end of the conversations carried the same angst of unhappy marriages.

"I was suddenly in love," said Sana, 27. "It was amazing. We seemed to be stuck in the same kind of miserable marriage. How right that turned out to be."

Little did the two know before they met face-to-face for a date that they were actually married to each other.

Unfortunately there is no happy ending for this couple. They are divorcing, accusing the other of infidelity.

How much better it could have been if they had only talked to each other (knowing it was their spouse). Maybe their dissatisfaction with their spouse could have been addressed in conversations and remedies for their troubled relationship could have been agreed upon. It appears that they didn't do much conversing with each other (that they were aware of anyway).

Talk. Talk to your spouse, your children, your friends, your boss, your co-workers. Ask questions. Give honest feedback. Work toward improving all of your relationships. And remember what your parents taught you: Don't talk to strangers.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My Responsibility

Ouch! I didn't realize it, but it has been a month since my last post. I got busy with 'life' and neglected my 'wider life'. No excuses though! We are all busy, and we all have responsibilities.

Which brings me to the concept of taking responsibility. All of us have things (relationships, assignments, expectations of others, etc.) that we are responsible for. Some things are required (stopping at red lights, paying our bills on time), and have consequences when we don't take responsibility. Other things are not so imminent, and we can "fudge" a bit (spending time with our children, studying, missing a day of exercise).

But we must remember that when we aren't diligent with our responsibilities, we eventually pay the price. My children become distant, my mind looses its edge, and the next day I run... I feel it!

Even with this Blog. If I go without regular posts, then those who might read the Blog will eventually lose interest because there is nothing fresh.

For that I take responsibility.

Therein lies another aspect of responsibility: owning-up when we fail. In our culture, it is popular to place the responsibility on others, to blame someone else. But true character dictates that when I fail, I admit that it was my mistake. I seek forgiveness and make restitution when necessary. In a sense I am taking responsibility for my irresponsibility.

So there you have it. I wasn't responsible for posting to my Blog on a regular basis. But, I didn't blame it on anything other than the fact that I didn't post on my Blog regularly. Simply put, I wasn't responsible, but now I am.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Angry Clouds


What do you see when you look at this picture? Do you see the mountains, or the water, or the clouds? Maybe you see the snow on the mountains, or maybe the ice in the water. I guess it all depends on our perspective.

I have a friend and colleague who says that everyone has their own version of reality. If we would think about that statement, I'm sure we would agree.

We normally see things through our own "perspective" or "filter. If we are seeking to see things from another's point of view, we try to see things from their perspective.

Sometimes we simply see things the way we want them to be.

When I look at the picture, I see angry clouds. Now you may not consider these clouds to be angry, but as I interpret this picture, they are angry. Does this make me right or wrong? Does this make me good or bad?

Often when we don't agree with another person's perspective on something, we judge them. We think they are wrong and we are right. What we must remember is that it is "their perspective". Not ours. Maybe we ought to try and see it from their perspective. Maybe we could use a little balance in our lives.

This could go a long way in help us relate to our spouses, our children, our friends and even strangers.

Angry clouds? Maybe not for you. But for me today, maybe.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sleeping and Dreaming

I think there are some differences between sleepers and dreamers. Here are a few:

A sleeper closes his eyes; A dreamer sees beyond the visible.

A sleeper lies in one place; a dreamer soars.

A sleeper uses a pillow and a blanket; A dreamer uses his heart and his imagination.

A sleeper sounds like this: "zzzzzzzzz"; A dreamer sounds like this: "hmmmmmmmm".

A sleeper revitalizes his body; A dreamer invigorates his mind.

A sleeper sleeps in darkness; A dreamer dreams in color.

A sleeper wakes up ready to face the world; A dreamer wakes the passion within him.

Are you a sleeper? I encourage you to wake up and dream!

Friday, July 13, 2007

What Do You Discuss?

Admiral Hyman Rickover, known as the Father of the Nuclear Navy is quoted as saying, "Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people." Hmmmmm.

Listen to practically any conversation and it falls in one of the three categories listed above. And if I had to do a quick survey based on personal experience, I'd say that a vast number of conversations that I have heard or joined have been about people or events.

It's a mirror of our society. Idea Magazine won't be found on many racks for sale, but at practically every checkout register in practically every grocery store in America you'll find People Magazine. Sad commentary.

It is not often that ideas are discussed. It's easy to discuss people or events because well, it's easy. Ideas cause us to think, to reason, to create and even to disagree. Sometimes our Christian culture discourages disagreement. But I say share your idea, even if it is contrary to what is being offered.

So here's my question today: "What do you discuss?"

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Too Much Nudging?

In response to the appreciated anonymous comment on my previous post:

I know exactly how you feel when it comes to asking God for a glimpse (or a full set of plans) of what He has laid out for us. I am a fifty-year-old father of three (one still in high school), seeking to pay my bills, put some money away for retirement and have a significant impact on the world. Do I want my world turned upside-down? Am I really willing to ask God to really speak to me?

Then I think about Abraham, Moses, Paul, the Disciples and even contemporaries who heard from God and completely re-vamped their lives.

Yes, we all pray "Lord, I want to hear from you", but are any of us really willing to "hear" from Him? When Peter put his net out on the other side of the boat (deep water) after having fished all night and caught nothing, he was saying, "Whatever you have for me Lord, I choose to do it - even BEFORE I know what it is." Now to me that is faith: fishing in unknown water, listening to a carpenter tell him where the fish are, catching the fish and then giving it all up and following Jesus.

So if I nudge too much, I apologize. But I do hold my ground when I say pursue your dreams, ignite your passions, and get in on what God is doing, using the gifts He has given you.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Old Friend, New Passion

Today, I met up with a friend whom I hadn't seen for a year. He is from South Africa, and is passing through the area on his way to work at a camp in the Midwest. We caught up on the "regular stuff", but then I proceeded to ask him about what was really happening in his life.

He began to tell me about a passion that he has had since he was a child: to make movies. Although he had been involved in Youth Ministry for the past year, he knew it was time to get back to his first love. And get back he has!

After working with a large broadcast network in South Africa and gaining valuable experience, he has stepped out on his own and formed his own production company. Already he has completed a large project for distribution and the contractor has ordered two sequels, with a possibility of a production in the Middle East after that.

What captured me the most was not that he had accomplished so much in a short period of time, but rather that he was so full of excitement and life as he related how his life had "fallen into place every step of the way". What he was sharing was not a story, but rather a journey.

I put my hand on his shoulder and encouraged him to continue to pursue his dreams, to fulfill his calling and to be courageous. I reminded him that a life of faith is a life of living one step at a time, as God reveals His plan to us as we walk it out daily.

And I prayed for him. I prayed that not only would his art be seen in his work, but also his heartbeat would be felt.

I came away from that meeting encouraged. I was encouraged because I saw a friend who was using his creativity and gifting to passionately live out his life and fulfill what he was created to be.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Say It!

Today at a staff meeting I shared with our team my weekly Leadership Minute, where I seek to give a quick encouragement that will help us become better leaders. This week I spoke on Communicating Clearly: Making sure what is said is what is heard.

Many times I find that good communication is sacrificed for verbiage, and the message is lost in the words. Let's face it: many people like to hear themselves talk. And their talking isn't always communicating.

So what do we do? I suggest that we consider our audience. Ask, Who am I seeking to communicate with, rather than what am I seeking to communicate? Remember, our goal is communication, rather than simply sounding good.

Also, careful word choice will always produce better results than using choice words. Think about what you are saying. Don't just say what you are thinking.

Bottom line: It’s not what you said that matters, but it’s what the other person understood that makes for successful communication.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Follow The Leader

The headline this morning reads, "Steven Spielberg endorses Hillary Clinton". Spielberg is quoted as saying, "I've taken the time to familiarize myself with the impressive field of Democratic candidates and am convinced that Hillary Clinton is the most qualified candidate to lead us from her first day in the White House."

Now this is not about Hillary Clinton, but rather about Steven Spielberg. I know you will agree with me that he is a brilliant filmmaker who not only has proven himself with commercial success, but also with artistic achievement.

My question is this: How does impressive film making and commercial success qualify someone to give a public opinion about something that is not in his area of expertise? Isn't the guy who works in the warehouse across town and has himself taken the time to familiarize myself with the impressive field of Democratic candidates just as qualified to have a political opinion?

The list is endless: Tom Cruise talks about psychiatry, Oprah Winfrey recommends a book, and Ludacris tells Pepsi "what to do" in a song lyric.

And because a person is perceived as "successful", we hold on to every word they say and make our decisions based on their opinions.

Well, that's my opinion. Do what you want with it.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Off to Jail

The headlines read, "Paris Goes To Prison", and "Hilton Heads For Jail." The Monday morning media obsessed with the fact that Paris Hilton began her 23 day sentence. And we all watched with great interest. Once again our society turned its attention to an event that involved a person who has really no bearing in the larger scheme of things.

This past Sunday our church ordained five people as ministers. These five are already involved in ministries that are affecting the world. Part of our ordination process is to take the hands of the person and tie a rope around their wrists, symbolizing that they are bond servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. It's a pretty cool event!

As we were tying the wrists, one man who many years ago had been arrested remarked to me, "The last time I did this it was for something I did wrong. Now I am doing something right." Imagine that!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What Do You See?

When you look at the image here, what do you see? Do you see the flower? Do you see the hands? Do you see a flower presented by hands? Or maybe "growing" from the hands?

Often when we look at a picture, we may see differently than another might see while looking at the same picture. It's all about perception and interpretation.

The same is true when we look at people. One may see a homeless man as a nuisance or potential threat. Another may see him as someone in need. A third person may see him as someone who is one break away from "making it".

The next time you see someone and form an opinion about them, ask yourself why you are interpreting him or her the way you are. Do you see a problem or potential? Do you see beauty or ugliness? Do you see a bother or a blessing?

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Heart of a Creator

Do you have the heart of a creator? When you see something that is "bigger than you", do you stand in wonder and awe? When you encounter a problem or setback, do you begin to consider solutions? When you get a profound thought do you "insert it in a story", put it to music, or perhaps visualize it in color?

I believe that everyone of us is given the heart of a creator. Some express it easily. Others need a bit of encouragement. So, let me encourage you.

Look deep inside your heart and see if there is an eagle waiting to soar, or maybe a gazelle itching to run. Sometimes we are so busy living "life" that we neglect being who we were created and designed to be. Understandably, we have responsibilities that demand our time and attention. And we would be negligent if we laid those aside to be "creative". (Even the Word of God has something to say about that.)

But our creativity can be used to adjust our schedules so we have time to pursue those deep things within our heart. Can you carve out 30 minutes a day to "run"? Are you able to stop doing something else so you have some time to "soar"?

Can you "create" while you do other tasks which don't use creative side of your brain? (There are seasons when we can only do the essentials - which take up all of our time. But those seasons emerge into new seasons with "time".)

Look into your heart, the heart of a creator!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I Miss It!

A musician I know had the opportunity to play in a band this past weekend. He hadn't played for about two years, and he jumped right in with passion. His chops might have been a bit rusty, but it didn't show.

Afterwards in a discussion, he conceded that he really enjoyed himself. He said he missed playing, and went on to describe a renewed desire to pursue his music.

I love stories like that. To hear a person describe the joy he or she gets from doing what they were designed to do, exercising the gifts that they have been given, and pursuing a passion that drives their soul.

What about you? Is there something that you are taking a "break" from, something that you have been gifted and "called" to do that you are not doing right now? Are you avoiding expressing what is deep in your heart. Are you missing out on fulfilling what you were created to do?

Thank about it. Do you "miss it"?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Question Mark Kid

As more information is coming out about the tragic shooting at Virginia Tech University, one thing that is gripping my attention is the nick-name that the apparent gunman had been given, the "Question Mark Kid". Here's an excerpt from a news article posted on FoxNews.com:

Classmates said that on the first day of an introduction to British literature class last year, the 30 or so English students went around and introduced themselves. When it was Cho's turn, he didn't speak. The professor looked at the sign-in sheet and, where everyone else had written their names, Cho had written a question mark.

"Is your name, 'Question mark?'" classmate Julie Poole recalled the professor asking. The young man offered little response. Cho spent much of that class sitting in the back of the room, wearing a hat and seldom participating. In a small department, Cho distinguished himself for being anonymous.

"He didn't reach out to anyone. He never talked," Poole said. "We just really knew him as the 'question mark kid.'"

Will we ever know "who" this young man was? Will the 23 year old killer ever be given an "identity"? Are there other "Question Mark Kids" out there that you interact with everyday?

Are we too busy and self-absorbed to notice someone who is crying out for our attention? Consider the quiet, unassuming and "invisible" people that you see everyday, but you never really look at. Perhaps they need a second look from you.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Anna Nicloe Smith

I have to do it. I am going to rant and rave about something that ticks me off! OK, here goes...

Yesterday as I was running on the treadmill, I watched three different news outlets on TV say that one of their top stories was the announcement of the corner's findings from the Anna Nicole Smith autopsy in Broward County, Florida. These were reputable media outlets, not just Entertainment Tonight.

Here's my peeve: Has our society become so off-centered that a press conference dealing with the autopsy of a pseudo-celebrity becomes a highlight of the day's news cycle? Why does the six-week old death of a former playboy playmate still garner headline status? Why do people build their lives around what is happening in the lives of strangers, who will never affect them?

Allow me to share another story that came from Broward County, Florida the same day that Anna Nicole Smith's story ran. Baby Parker died over the weekend in a Ft. Lauderdale abortion clinic. No autopsy was done because the cause of death was a common procedure. No press conference was held. No news outlets ran the story. In fact, only four people were aware that it even happened.

No film at eleven.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Give Something Away

Here's a thought: take something that you own, one of your possessions, and give it to someone who really needs it. Seriously! In your vast arsenal of "stuff" is there something you could do without? Is there something you have multiples of, that is simply taking up space in your house?

I did this a few weeks ago. I met a young man from England who was trying to "find himself" through various eastern religions. I was able to share with him the "truth" about Jesus, and he understood, as if a light went off in his mind and heart!

In a subsequent conversation with him, I asked him if he had a Bible, to which he replied, "No." So I gave him mine. I have more Bibles. The one I gave away was one of my favorites because it was small and fit nicely in my backpack that I carry pretty much everywhere I go. Plus it had various notes and thoughts in it. But I wanted him to have it.

This is not a story about me and my wonderful sacrifice. But rather, it is about those who have needs, and we who have so much abundance. We ought to give to those who really need it. It's not much of a sacrifice if we really think about it.

By the way, the lady in the picture had me over to her home for dinner while I was in India. She gave something away: a wonderful meal from what little she had, her only chair for me to sit in so I wouldn't have to sit on the ground, and her only spoon for me to eat with so I didn't have to use my hands. Now that's humbling.

So go ahead, give something away.

Question: What can you give away to enrich someone else's life?


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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Lead Dreamer

Are you the "Lead Dreamer" in your group (family, team, work group)? Are you constantly asking yourself and others, "What if?" When you encounter a challenge do you say, "Oh no!" or do you think, "Why not?"

Do you motivate and stimulate others to dream, and to dream big? Or do you stifle the creativity of others because it doesn't fit your "plan"?

Are the people who gather around you free to dream, led by your example and motivated by your encouragement?

I believe that God was dreaming "big" when He created man. I also believe that we are created in the image of God, therefore we too should dream "big".

A father once said to his son, "If you can dream it, you can do it." Now that's pretty good advice.

Question: How are you the Lead Dreamer in your circle of influence? Share your thoughts below in responses.

(If you like this post, please re-post it or Twittter it to your followers. Follow me @Bigcloudmusic on Twitter if you find me interesting.)

Friday, March 02, 2007

India: Epilogue

If you have kept up with my posts from India, you will agree that I had an incredible trip. I am still overwhelmed with the country, the people and what God allowed me to be a part of.

The travel from Vellore to Chennai to London to the USA took all of 40 hours with layovers and delays. But, at 6:00 pm on Monday, home at last! I did miss my wife and children very much.

I know that my life has been altered by the experiences that I had in India. I also know that being on the front lines of real ministry is a difficult but exhilarating experience. I only hope that the lives of those I came in contact with are different also, because of what the Lord has done for them.

Thanks again for "going with me" on this trip. I am glad you were a part of it.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

India: Day Fourteen

Today was my final day in India and my final time of ministry. I had the privilege of speaking at a church that is very mush like my home church, Immanuel’s, in its worship and style.

After a passionate time of worship, prayer, offering and even announcements, I challenged the congregation from the book of Acts. It was exciting to see the people listening and receiving the Word of God, and during the altar call there were four adults who committed their lives to Christ for the first time!

The Lord has shown Himself strong during this trip. I am privileged to have shared in what He is doing in this part of the world. I am excited that the pastors and believers here are hungry for a move of the Holy Spirit and seeking Him passionately. Thank you for sharing in this adventure with me.

India: Day Thirteen

I am seeing that the house church movement is very strategic here in India. Many of the churches that have begun here have started as home fellowships. I spoke at one this evening that had only two families attending, but they were encouraged and they encouraged me.

One man that I have met here is involved in three house churches, assisting them as they begin and grow. The desire of the people here to see their families, friends and communities won to Christ is powerful. We know that the Holy Spirit is continuing to show Himself strong here in India, and this country will see great revival and harvest.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

India: Day Twelve

Today may sound like a “minor” day of ministry because my only work was speaking at a small house church. But it was far from that, as once again God’s Spirit showed Himself strong and God’s presence showed itself in a remarkable way.

The house church is a relatively new ministry that is located in the center of a community of Hindus. In fact, the twenty or so people that attend the meetings are the only Christians in the community. They have experienced much persecution in many forms. There is ridicule at school where the children attend, verbal abuse and “silent” abuse (opportunities are not given to the Christians to buy things at discount, promotions at work are not given when they are due and college scholarships are given only to Hindu students). Plus, false accusations are brought against the people to the police and to other government officials. There has been at least one instance of rocks being thrown at the believers as they have gathered to worship.

Yet the faith and resolve of this small group of believers continues! Twenty-three gathered in the living room of a businessman on Friday evening and assisted by a worship CD in a CD player, they sang, prayed and thanked God for His faithfulness. Then I shared an encouraging word to strengthen their faith and give them courage.

The presence of God was strong there. It was the strongest of any of the churches that I have met with on this trip. Many of the people asked me to pray for them, and as I did the presence of God increased and very real emotional and physical healings took place.

One young girl complained of sharp stomach pain for a week. After we prayed, she said the pain was gone! A married couple who had been trying to conceive a child for five years asked if I’d pray for them. As I prayed, I sensed that the woman’s womb was actually opening. I told them that deep in my spirit I felt that one year form now they would be holding a baby.

Another young lady asked that I pray for a husband for her. As we prayed, she began to cry a cry of release, trusting in the Lord. (She couldn’t understand what I was praying because she didn’t speak English. But her spirit understood!)

What moved me the most was the wife of the host home. She is a believer, but I was told she is very reserved and not given to emotion. She asked that I pray for pain in her shoulders and arms. As I prayed she was filled with the Holy Spirit began to cry, and continued to for quite a while. She was overjoyed with her encounter with the Lord! All were astonished at her response because it was so out of character for her.

I believe that this humble house church will become the leading edge of a revival in that community and in just a few months, the community will be known as “Christian” rather than Hindu.

Friday, February 23, 2007

India: Day Eleven

This evening I had the privilege to speak at the weekly chapel service at the most prestigious teaching hospital in all of India. What an honor it was to stand before over 500 doctors, medical staff, students, patients and family members and share the love of Christ with the again mostly Hindu audience. The place was packed, with many standing in the doorways.

After a time of worship and prayer, led by a team from a nearby church, I shared the story in John 5 of the man by the pool who was waiting to be healed for 38 years. Ramesh translated into Tamil, and together we told the people that Jesus was willing to heal them both physically and spiritually if they are willing to trust in Him and Him alone.

I gave an altar call and approximately 200 people responded to the invitation to commit their lives to Christ! What an incredible sight it was to see a hospital chapel service become a harvest of souls!

It was a fast-paced evening because as soon as I finished with the altar call, I was whisked away by motor cycle to a village outside of Vellore where I was scheduled to speak at a humble house-church, leaving Ramesh and his brother-in-law-pastor in charge of the “after-service”.

Once again I was overwhelmed with the passion and heart of the Christians who faithfully meet week after week to worship, pray and receive the Word of God amid much opposition and poverty.

The small gathering of 22 believers were gracious and receptive to the encouragement from God’s Word. After the service we prayed for each person and again saw miracles. Many asked that I pray for their families who were Hindu and needed to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord is faithful!

Thank you for continuing to lift me up as I minister here in India. We only have three more days of ministry, and I am expecting God to do even more wonders! Thank you for being part of this trip with me!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

India: Day Ten

Once again the Spirit of God showed Himself strong as we ministered! I misunderstood the plan for today when I was told the night before. I thought we were going out in the remote areas again to visit the poor and pray for them. As we were driving through Vellore it became apparent in the conversation that we were going instead to a prayer meeting, and I was to bring a word.

I quickly prayed, “Lord, I have not prepared anything. Give me a word!” Well, as we walked into the small church, there were about 40 women praying. The only men were the pastor, Ramesh and my pastor-host-driver. The Lord immediately gave me a word.

I spoke to the women out of Zephaniah chapter 3, focusing on verse 17 where it says, “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

I sensed that these women, some of whom were former Hindus and the others were still Hindus, needed to know that they were loved and to feel that they were loved. So I shared the Love of God the Father with them. I was obvious in their eyes and their countenances that they were receiving the Father’s love as I spoke.

I prayed for them as a group, and then prayed for most of them individually. In the process, I led several of the Hindu women to Christ. The Love of the Father drew them to Himself! It was a beautiful and wonderful time!

One older woman said that she had lost her husband one month ago, and was very sad and starting to grow weak, wanting to give up on life. After I prayed for her, I embraced her (remember, hugging is not big in the Indian culture). As I did, she hugged me back and allowed me to hold her for several minutes. I know that the Lord was ministering to her broken heart and pouring out His love in her.

I spent the afternoon with a Sri Lankan pastor, and was able to encourage him as he encouraged me with what God was doing in his country. Then that evening, we were back at the church where I spoke on Monday.

We had a glorious time of praise and the Lord was anointing His Word as I spoke from Psalm 115 (see verse 1 below). Great boldness rose up from the people as we ministered at the end of the service. We also saw two people have their sight restored as they were prayed for.

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to Your Name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness.”

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

India: Day Nine

Imagine a successful fruit and vegetable business, buying fresh products at wholesale and then selling them to consumers who frequent the stores to purchase the products. Imagine the owners in their beautiful home, driving expensive cars, and living the American Dream. We see it everyday.

Now imagine a family of five in India, with a modest fruit stand along a main street in a small village, selling the few pieces of fruit that the father could afford to buy at the fruit market in the city and carrying on his bicycle. Then imagine a four-foot-by-six-foot hut right behind the fruit stand, right there on the street where all five of the family sleep every night because it is their home.

Today I stopped and prayed for this very family described above (see pic also). They are one of the few families of believers in this predominately Hindu town. They are seeking to be a light in this very dark part of the world, living with much joy amidst such challenging poverty.

After we prayed, they gave me their only watermelon they had for sale (probably 1/5 of their profit for the day). I had to take it, so as not to offend them. I silently prayed that the Lord would bless them one-hundred fold.

I gave the watermelon away to another family. After receiving it, the mother thanked the Lord, and told me this story: Just this morning they had bought a much smaller watermelon but some monkeys stole it and ate it, leaving them with none. Now, they had an even bigger watermelon! Isn’t the Lord good?

The morning and afternoon was spent visiting poor people in a farming and shepherding area. We went from house to house, field to field and prayed for people, encouraging them and sharing the love of Jesus. At one place, 13 women had gathered to pass the lunch hour in the shade of a big tree. Only one was a Christian, the rest were Hindu. Right then and there we had an evangelistic meeting and I shared the Gospel, and several gave their hearts to the Lord!

In the evening I spoke at a prayer meeting in a small rural church with just over 60 people present. They worshipped with passion, they prayed with fervor, and they received God’s Word with grace. They are hungry for God’s Word and His Spirit. God is doing great wonders here, but it is a difficult life for the people.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

India: Day Eight

This has been an overwhelming day for me. I saw things today that I had only heard about or read about. Today God allowed me to see the part of His Kingdom that He loves the most, what most Americans don’t get to see.

Let me tell you about this evening first. I had the privilege of being in one of the first meetings of a new church plant outside of Vellore, in one of the remote areas. The people are celebrating the construction of their new building, a modest one-room concrete block structure with openings in the walls for the breeze to blow through. Wednesday they are having their official dedication (I have been asked to speak).

The people (a little over 50) worshipped with passion, led by the two pastors (Ramesh was on keyboard). The exuberance of these Christians is inspiring. They sing, they shout, they dance, they lift their hands and they clap. They know how to worship.

I spoke on the presence of God, and after another time of praise and calling for the glory of God, we prayed for people. Once again God was faithful and we saw healings and delivered prophetic words. I am looking forward to going back on Wednesday.

OK, now to what shook my soul. In the morning, I accompanied a local pastor (the pastor of the aforementioned church) to a very poor area that had a settlement for crippled people. We stopped and spoke with people who had all kinds of physical limitations – twisted limbs, turned feet – sharing the love of God and then asking if we could pray for them. Just about everyone is Hindu, and the concept of a savior who not only could save but also heal was very foreign.

A few hundred meters away from there is a leaper colony that we went to next. We would walk along, stopping to speak to people, and groups would form. The pastor would share the Gospel, and then I would lay hands on and pray for the leapers. My heart was so moved with compassion as I saw these outcasts, whom no one loved or wanted to be near.

After I had prayed for the first person, I heard the Lord say, “Hold him.” And so I wrapped my arms around the man and held him for a few minutes. I did this for all of the leapers that I prayed for. (The Indian culture isn’t big on hugging anyway, so this was doubly-different for them.) Add to this that they are leapers, and who knows how many years it has been since they were held?

As we were walking back to the car a leprous man came out to the road, hobbling on a stick he could hardly hold. He had heard that we were praying for people. He said, “Pray for me!” I did, and as I held him he put his head on my shoulder and began to cry.

Understand?

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Monday, February 19, 2007

India: Day Seven

Today was Sunday. Three different messages in three different churches. The Word of God produced fruit. The Spirit of God brought healing. The presence of God brought freedom. The Lord was exalted!

Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to Your Name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness. (Psalm 115:1)

I’m tired! Goodnite!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

India: Day Six

Today is the last day in Mamallapuram. I was called upon to set up a computer and internet connection for Pastor Sami at the orphanage before we attended the Saturday prayer meeting. A little practical work before spiritual work. We got the computer up and running (that is where I posted yesterday’s blog from) and then went into the prayer meeting after it had already begun.

Fervent is how I have to keep describing prayer of the believers here. They called out to God for revival, for family members, for he lost and for the hurting. I don’t know of one person who asked that I pray for themselves.

I taught a word on the pressures of life (these people have pressure!) and how God is interested in making us all perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. I envy the people, because they have so few distractions and when God applies pressure on their lives, they can only turn to Him.

There were many goodbyes, hugs and blessings, and then I got in the car with Ramesh (from Immanuel’s) and we headed west to Vellore, a city about 3 hours from the coast. It was an interesting ride as we saw farmlands, cities, towns and lot of people pass by in this vast country.

In Vellore, my first ministry act was to participate on Saturday evening in the commissioning of a new missionary by an organization that sends apostles all over India. On the trip over I was told I’d been asked to give the charge to the man (see pic). He is going to be working with the prostitutes in the north of India, taking the love of Christ to those whom no one loves. I challenged him to follow the leading of the Spirit of God, and to not turn to the left or the right as the Spirit led him.

After I sat down, a note was passed to the lead pastor asking me to pray for him also. I wasn’t on that part of the program, but I was again called on, this time to pray. I began to prophesy things into his life that God was showing me as I prayed for him.

After I sat down, another note was passed to the front, this time asking me to pray for the other missionaries present, about 14 in all. They even asked if I’d bless the offering after it was taken!

It is exciting to see these people committed to reaching their own nation. It was shared that evening that there are over 4,000 different people groups in India, and over 1,600 different languages. Only 4% of the population is Christians, so there is much to be done. Tomorrow I preach three times at three different churches on three different subjects. It ought to be interesting!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

India: Day Five

Today has been a whirlwind! We had a prayer meeting in the morning at Pastor Sami's church and then we left for a refugee camp in Chennai. More about Chennai later.

At the prayer meeting the people were passionate about crying out to the Lord. They prayed in the "harp and bowl" style, intermingling praise & prayer, worship and intercession. Just as I was going to give an encouraging word to them, a man literally stumbled in, hardly able to stand, let alone walk. He was a Hindu man, who one of the members met that morning and invited to the meeting. Well, he picked a good meeting to attend, because the Spirit of God was strong! I was told he had a sickness (I don't know the English equivalent for it) and it affected his whole body, making him weak and hardly able to move. I told him that only Jesus could heal him, and he needed to call on the Name of Jesus, and not any of his other "gods".

I asked him, "Do you want to be healed?" He said yes, and lifted his hands and called on Jesus. We prayed and he stood up and walked, proclaiming, "I believe in Jesus!" It just doesn't get any better than that!

The refugee camp in Chennai is where people from Sri Lanka, who fled their nation because of war, have settled. There are over 3,000 people living on five acres! Imagine the living conditions.

Right in the middle of the camp is a modest building of 12 by 15 feet where a church meets. Over 50 people packed on tho the floor of this tiny building in expectation of what the Lord was going to do. They worshipped, I preached, and then after we prayed. Then I was called upon to I gave the charge at the ordination of the church's pastor (remember: I had to be ready for anything on this trip). After the service, a Sri Lankan man came to me and one of his eyes was swollen almost completely closed. He said only two words to me: the first was "pray" as he pointed to his eye. I put my hand over his eye and began to pray for him. After I finished, he said the second word: "clear", as he again pointed to his eye with a big smile on his face. It was fully opened and he kept looking around everywhere!

The Lord is good! Tomorrow I am off to a new area (Vellore) for the second week of my trip here in India. Please continue to pray! This corner of the world is experiencing the power of God. Lives are being changed and the Kingdom of God is being expanded!

Friday, February 16, 2007

India: Day Four


Today was a day of extremes. In the morning we attended a pastor’s meeting and in the evening it was evangelism. From encouraging the shepherds to winning the sheep.

Oh yes, on the way to the pastor’s meeting we stopped by where Jonathan was staying so we could encourage him and see how he was doing. In the course of our conversation, two of his friends sat in so Pastor Sammi and I shared the Gospel with them also. I gave away one of my Bibles to Jonathan (I brought two – I have more back home) and we bid him farewell, knowing that God has His hand on Jonathan’s life.

We gathered at the orphanage that Pastor Sammi started as one of his ministry outreaches to meet with and encourage local pastors (I guess local means traveling from as far away as 40 miles). Thirty-six pastors attended, and after they had an opportunity to introduce themselves and tell about their ministries and lives (some had congregations of only 15, the largest had 150, one was an evangelist who ministered in fishing villages) I encouraged them with a word.

I spoke on the importance of having a legacy, and how they needed to make sure they were reproducing themselves in others so their ministries would continue after they were gone. After a time of prayer and ministry, we ate lunch together. Several of the pastors told me that they have never heard the concept of a legacy (remember that this is a remote area that is only beginning to hear the Gospel so evangelism is the only goal of most pastors).

In the evening we traveled 8 miles by motorcycle (don’t tell my wife) over some good and some bad roads (there were three of us on the small motorcycle, plus equipment – PA system), then hiked a quarter-mile through a village. Next we crossed about a half-mile of rice paddies and came upon a farmer’s village where we set up for a street meeting (more like a dirt path meeting).

The PA system was set up and we worshipped, followed by me preaching the Gospel to about 75 people. I was told after words that only two families present (eight people) attended Pastor Sammi’s church. The rest were lost people. I gave an altar call and nearly everyone else said “yes” to Jesus. We prayed individually for people and again saw many healings!

One of the church families had us over for dinner after the meeting. Please understand what I am about to say next. These are dirt-poor farmers who opened up their home (rather their dirt yard) to us and gave us a simple meal of rice and dahl cooked over an outdoor fire pit (picture a hole in the ground). And they are treating me like a king, giving me the only chair in the house and the only spoon they owned to eat with. I was given two bananas while the other members of the team got only one.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

India: Day Three

This morning I preached at a small church (45 present) that is located near a fishing village and an area where the poorest of the poor live. The fishing village was completely destroyed by the Tsunami and the people live in thatched huts (see pic) while their homes are being re-built.


Let me say that I don’t think I have ever been in a worship service where there was more fervent declaration during the worship. These people, who pretty much have only the Lord, are incredibly passionate about their love for Him.

When I saw their hearts of gratitude and praise during the worship time (the only instrument was a man playing an old snare drum with his hands and a stick), I changed what I had planned to speak on and shared an encouraging word from Psalm 42. After words, it was announced that I would be praying for people. The people practically climbed over each other as they gathered around to be prayed for.

We saw miracles again! One woman who was having trouble breathing (I assume emphysema – her wheezing was very profound) was breathing clearly when we said amen. Another woman complained of pain around her sinuses and told me the pain was gone when we finished. Broken marriages were prayed for, as well as sick children and barren wombs. It was quite a morning!

In the evening, a large tent was erected in front of Pastor Sammi’s house/church building right on the main road in the middle of town. Don’t picture a huge worship center with a beautiful lawn and shrubbery. Think more of a modest, aging stucco structure and a dirt yard along a dirty, busy road.

During the worship, a white man in his mid-thirties walked up to the tent. Pastor Sammi greeted him and introduced him to me. His name is Jonathan, and he told me that he was from England, and that he was here on a month-long spiritual retreat among the Hindu people. I told him that if he stayed around, that I believed he would find what he was looking for. He stayed, and I preached about the blind beggar who called out to Jesus and whom Jesus told him that his faith had made him see.

After the preaching, as myself and other local pastors were praying for people, Jonathan came up to me and said, “I only speak to experts about spiritual things. I think you are an expert on faith.” Well, needless to say I am no expert, but I do know a little about faith. So we talked and in the end, he committed his life to the Lord!

I shared with him that I believed the Lord was saying He had called him out to make way for His coming. Jonathan responded, “That’s interesting, because the children (who were sitting by him under the tent) said he was John the Baptist (he knew who John the Baptist was). I told him, “Not interesting, but confirmed.”

Yes there were physical miracles that evening, but I believe that the experience with Jonathan was the highlight for me.

Thank you for faithfully praying for me and for reading this blog to see what God is doing half-way around the world. Your comments are very encouraging to me on this difficult and demanding ministry trip. Blessings!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

India: Day Two

Get this: on the way from the airport after I was picked Sunday night up by Pastor Sammi (the main pastor that I am working with the first week I am here), he leans over to me and says, “We are going to a wedding on Tuesday morning and you are giving the wedding challenge to the bride and groom.” I knew I was supposed to be ready for anything when traveling for ministry, but I didn’t think a wedding was on the agenda. Great, I thought, I didn’t even bring a suit!

So just like he said, on Tuesday morning we went to a wedding (the bride is a member of Pastor Sammi’s congregation) and just before they took their vows, I gave a 20 minute challenge from Ephesians 4 & 5 to the bride and groom and the assembles guests. At the end of the ceremony I was again called on, this time to bless the couple. My first traditional Indian wedding and I got to be in it! Like I said yesterday, “Very cool!”

Well the wedding was wonderful, but going to and coming from the wedding was where the challenge was. The wedding was in Chennai, and we needed to travel 90 minutes to get there from Mamallapuram, the town where we are ministering this week. Pastor Sammi hired a car and driver (the car seats four, including the driver) and proceeded to load 11 more people into the car. 

Add to the mix the number of busses, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians and animals, none of whom obey any traffic laws (maybe the animals do a bit) on the roads, streets and highways, and this was quite an experience. Pastor Sammi lives in the edge, and he pulled me out right there with him.

Tuesday afternoon and evening Pastor Sammi’s son Isaac, who is a college student and worship leader, took me around the area to give me a feel for the local culture. is a fishing/tourist town that was practically obliterated by the Tsunami. Isaac showed me where homes previously stood, where entire fishing villages were destroyed and where the water came to before it receded. He also showed me the areas where the poorest of the poor lived, the Gypsy settlement and the garbage dump that contributes to the poor sanitation.

But, he also pointed out the six churches and orphanage that his father has started. Plus, he introduced me to some of their pastors (I am staying with one). Ninety-six percent of India is Hindu, but in this little corner of the country, the Kingdom of God is expanding!

Tomorrow, we have a morning service near a fishing village and a poor community, and then a big crusade service in the evening at the main church in the center of town. I am praying for miracles!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

India: Day One

After a 19½ hour journey, I stepped off the plane in Chennai, India at 12:30 am on Monday morning (there’s a 10½ hour time difference between here and home – sorry, you do the math). By the time I got into bed at the home where I was staying, it was 3:00 am. And I was wide awake! So much for my first experience with real jet-lag. (Just for geographical perspective, the small fishing/resort town where I am staying this week south of Chennai was one of the areas devastated by the 2004 Tsunami.)

A few hours later it was morning and I was ready to go. I am staying one mile from the beach so took my morning run along the Indian Ocean. As I ran parallel to the angry ocean with its crashing waves and rough surf I began to think about the story where the disciples were fighting a storm in a boat and Jesus came to them walking on the water. Peter saw Jesus and said, “Lord, if it’s really You, tell me to come out on the water also.” Jesus said, “Come.”

Call it my upside-down-sleep-deprived state, or maybe it was the heat as I did my five miles (it was 90ยบ today), but as I meditated on those verses I actually looked out over the water a few of times half-expecting Jesus to be out there doing his water-walk. And then I posed myself the question, “What if Jesus asked me to come out on the water? Would I go?”

Well, I spent some time under some trees cooling down and pondering those thoughts, came back to my house and took a shower. Just about noon, I did my first “ministry act”… I laid hands on a man with leprosy and prayed for him to be healed. Pretty cool! And I am expecting a good report when I see him later this week.

That evening we had a meeting in a thatched-roof, open-sided pole building with mats on the sand floor. I preached the Gospel (through an interpreter) using the story in Matthew 14 where Peter walks on the water to the 51 people who attended (yes, I counted). There were five people who received Christ (the local pastor told me that they had never been to his meetings). More cool!

Then I laid hands on and prayed for the people. One man, a local fisherman who could hardly walk, stood up after we prayed and practically ran over to his family. Another man named Lazarus, who was in terrible back pain, got up after the prayer and carried the 50 lb. PA system speakers out to the storage building. Now that’s way cool!

By the way, I told the Lord, “Yes, I think I would come out on the water with Him.” I think He believed me because we did some pretty fancy water-walking together today.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Leaving For India...

This Saturday, February 10th I leave on a 16 day mission trip to Chennai (Madras), India. It will be my first trip there. I will be teaming with local pastors and we will be conducting crusade meetings in the evenings and will also preach at impromptu gatherings during the day. At other times we will be praying for the sick and feeding the poor.

I will be posting as often as I can during the trip so please check my blog to get updates on how God is moving.

Follow your passion!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I Read A Book

A friend of mine gave me a book to read. I finally finished it the other day. It was good. No, it was great.

It was great because it hugely affected my life. It challenged me to think about, reflect on, and evaluate parts of my life that I tend to stay away from. My friend knew this would happen. That's why he gave it to me.

I will say no more about how my life was impacted by this book. But I will say a bit more about how my life was impacted by this friend. You see, my friend thought enough of me and our friendship to take the risk of challenging me through an author's thoughts. I'm glad he did.

My response: to make sure that I am challenging my friend(s) in ways that their lives will be enriched, altered and changed.

Maybe I need to give a book.

Question: How are you impacting your friends? Share your thoughts below in "responses".

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What Have You Done So Far?

What have you done so far this year? In the past 10 days, what have you done that matters? Under the category "Things That Change the World", what is your contribution?

On December 31st I challenged a group of people with these words: Do you want to tread water, or do you want to change the world?

You may be thinking, "OK, but isn't there anything in between? Do I have to choose between nothing and everything?" Well, yes there is an "in-between", but I figure that if we're going to go beyond treading water, let's set our sights high and do something that really matters.

I have a friend who is walking through some very difficult days right now. He has been wrongly accused of impropriety and was forced out of his job, a job where he has touched the lives of literally thousands of people in the county where he lives.

As a result, scores of people have rallied around him. Some are calling and visiting, voicing their displeasure with the system and process by which he is facing injustice. Most though, are taking a public stand and are expressing their feelings through newspaper editorials, meetings and public statements. My friend said it this way: It's like attending my own memorial service.

Why would people rally around my friend and take a stand like this? Because he has spent the greater part of his life changing his part of the world. And the lives he has affected remember what has been done for them.

So, what have you done so far this year? Are you doing anything to change your part of the world?

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